When the Norwegian Breakaway docks and departs from the Port of New Orleans next fall, it will be the largest cruise ship to do so, the cruise line said Tuesday.
The 1,068-foot, 3,963-passenger vessel will arrive in New Orleans in November 2018. It will accommodate nearly twice as many guests as the 2,394-passenger Norwegian Pearl, which will sail its last seasonal itinerary out of New Orleans next month through April.
The Breakaway's arrival next year will nearly coincide with the return of Royal Caribbean cruise ships to New Orleans in December 2018 after a two-year absence.
Royal's return and Norwegian's larger ship will join two Carnival ships in the market and lift overall passenger capacity 22 percent higher than when New Orleans last had the three cruise lines in the market in 2015.
Norwegian's Breakaway will offer seven-, 10- and 11-day cruises, visiting ports in Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico; Ocho Rios, Jamaica; George Town, Grand Cayman; Roatan Bay Islands, Honduras; and Norwegian’s Harvest Caye, Belize, island destination.
The ship will undergo a two-week dry dock in the spring to remodel its public spaces, including new flooring, updated furniture, new decor and new carpeting in staterooms.
The Breakaway's accommodations range from studios for solo cruisers to an all-suites enclave called The Haven. It will offer more than 25 dining options, an aqua park with five slides, a ropes course with zip lines and Broadway-style entertainment.
New Orleans already is a year-round home port for Carnival Cruise Lines' 3,646-passenger Dream and 2,754-passenger Triumph.
The Dream sails a mix of primarily seven-day itineraries that include Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Cozumel; Honduras, Belize and Cozumel; the Bahamas and Key West, Florida. The Triumph sails four-day cruises to Cozumel and five-day cruises that visit Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico.
Norwegian has homeported cruise ships in New Orleans since 2003 and Carnival since 1994.
Carnival brought in the 2,754-passenger Triumph in April 2016 to replace the smaller 2,052-passenger Elation to increase its overall passenger capacity in the port by 34 percent.
That followed Royal Caribbean's decision to stop sailing winter cruises out of New Orleans in April 2015 aboard its 2,476-passenger Serenade of the Seas. Royal Caribbean's return in December 2018 with the 2,414-passenger Vision of the Seas will feature seasonal, week-long cruises to the Bahamas and Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.
The New Orleans port set a record in 2016 with 1,070,685 passengers; it has surpassed the 1 million passenger mark for three straight years. The Cruise Lines International Association ranks New Orleans as the sixth-largest cruise port in the U.S., with two cruise terminals.
The port finished a $23 million renovation of its Julia Street Wharf terminal in 2011 and constructed the $30 million, 130,000-square-foot Poland Avenue terminal in 2015 to handle ships in the 4,000-passenger range but capable of accommodating vessels as large as 6,000 passengers.
“Norwegian Breakaway will be the largest and newest ship from Norwegian to sail from New Orleans, and we are thrilled to bring our signature Breakaway-class ship to this important home port,” Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line, said.
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“The introduction of this magnificent cruise ship to New Orleans will give discerning cruise enthusiasts another wonderful opportunity to experience a vacation on the seas as well as in New Orleans,” said Mark Romig, president and CEO of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corp., the city’s leisure travel promotion agency.
Editor's note: This article was changed on Oct. 5, 2017, to correct Royal Caribbean's absence from the Port of New Orleans to two years.